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The Sorrowful Magdalena

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

In my last post, I talked about opening up that big box of crayons to re-awaken the creative freedom of your childhood. The Sorrowful Magdalena is done entirely in crayon, completed in one session, sitting in my living room chair on a cold winter evening. I had no idea when I began sketching the oval for Her face, who would manifest on my paper, I was simply passing time, trying to distract my mind from my prevalent worries.


Mary of Magdalene was always known to me as a Catholic Saint, not a goddess, but now I see her as the archetypal Goddess in Mourning. She came to me through my drawing at a time when I was nearly paralyzed with the fear of my husband’s very probable death as result of cardiac surgery. Doctors had first told him surgery was far too risky given his additional complications, but over time as his disease took its course, the risk of surgery had become less than the risk of doing nothing. Essentially we were told he could die if he had the surgery, but he would die without it.


Much like leaning on a friend who had been though it all, I found strength in Magdalene’s story, a loyal follower of her Christ to the end, mourning at the foot of His cross, rejoicing at His resurrection and ascension even though she would have to go on without Him.


My Sorrowful Magdalena hung on my bedroom wall, gazing down over me through my sleepless nights, while I sifted through photographs for a memorial board and made check lists of what to do if (in my mind, when) my husband died in a hospital 150 miles from home, and I would be left to find my way in a strange landscape. On those nights, Her eyes held more compassion than sorrow. Her story reassured me that whatever the outcome of my husband’s surgery, my life would be forever changed and only I would decide if it was for better or worse in my experience of it.


My husband and I spent the first eight years of our time together separated by the distance inherent of an over the road driving career. The last five have been spent virtually side-by-side, waiting out his medically predicted loss in the battle against heart disease. His doctor told him he was lucky to be alive at all. Given  the advanced state of his disease he should have died that day in his truck when he’d had to lie down until the shortness of breath and pain in his chest subsided.


Though we struggled through the loss of his job, his income, our lifestyle and intimacy, and persevered through mounting medical bills, I told myself that every day was a blessed gift from the Goddess; time with my husband before She took him from me in this lifetime.



Then when the shadow of death was drawing ever nearer, when I said what I believed was my final goodbye, watched his progression down that long, sterile corridor and went to sit my vigil awaiting the end, Goddess surprised me (as She never ceases to do). My husband beat the odds. He awoke from surgery to a second chance at life. With one stroke of Her brush, the Goddess transformed me yet again. How amazing!


The Sorrowful Magdalena still hangs on my wall, reminding me that in our darkest moments we may not see the light Goddess holds forth, but only have to trust that She will guide us through to our destiny.

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JudithAnn (aka the MAD Goddess) practices the  Old Craft tradition and magical arts of hearth and home.  Through  her writing and art, she encourages women in mid-life and beyond to  embrace their wildest dreams and live the second half of life with  purpose, passion and pizzazz. For those who need a little nudge, she  offers workshops in personal development and life path guidance  using journaling and art for creative self expression.


  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham Sunday, 08 September 2013

    Thank you for this post. Blessings on your continued dance with The Magdalena in her sorrow and her joy.

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